First off let’s clarify: it’s the dungeon that’s endless, not this preview, which itself should not be regarded as a vehicle of torture. Nor in fact should this indie title be regarded as a vehicle of torture either, despite its current level of difficulty.
Dungeon of the Endless purports itself to be a “rogue-like dungeon tower defense game.” While indie developers often grab your attention with flowery words, expressing a concept barely approached in execution, Amplitude Studios looks to be accomplishing the rare feat of delivering what they promise.
From the first moments of the retro-style pixelated intro video, the skill of the game’s creators is evident. To take on an old school graphics approach almost screams, “I don’t have the budget or technical know-how to create eye candy,” but when you see a space ship burning up on entry into a mysterious planet’s atmosphere, the 8-bit paint slowly peeling off the sides is a thing of real beauty – something that I don’t recall ever seeing before, even when gaming’s top minds were working in the square medium.
Being in the Early Access Alpha stages, there’s a surprising amount of meat on the bones – you have a power crystal to protect, hero characters to recruit and develop, and plenty of strategy to employ in opening doors or spending resources on defenses. There’s loot to find, merchants to visit and random bonuses to discover in a very D&D sense of adventure as you quest from room to room, searching for a level’s exit.
Throughout this process you’ll have to keep an eye on your Industry and Food levels (where Science is to be added in later). These numbers are important as they allow you to build different types of towers, making your job of defending and exploring safer and easier. Deciding where to allocate resources is a big element of the gameplay here, as wasting money on a food generator with only one door left to open in a level will yield a net loss of Industry (as only your stock carries over between stages).
Though it’s definitely possible to paint yourself into a corner by squandering your fortune, loss and failure feels like a result of your own poor planning, and learning from and overcoming challenges is really rewarding. As it stands there are several elements with “under construction” signs clearly posted, but when Science becomes a resource and heroes are able to learn skills, the end result is only going to better than what is, even at this point, impressive execution of an interesting and unique concept.